Archive | May, 2011

The Storms

26 May

Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last week, you have by now heard of the devastating weather that has plagued the US this week.  I am a bit of a stranger to “storm season” since I’m from SW Georgia.  Down there the most exciting weather we have is a drought….and maybe the occasional passing tropical depression from a hurricane.  Other than that it’s hot and muggy for most of the year and the mosquito proudly holds the title of state bird.  It’s a good thing.

However, since moving to Oklahoma last summer I have gotten my fill of natural disasters.  Earthquake?  Check!  Blizzard?  Double check!  Tornado?  Oh, you better believe it.

I live in Norman and work in Moore.  And if you’ve ever met someone from Moore, you know that they take the weather seriously.  On May 3, 1999 the town was devastated by a massive EF-5 tornado.  The date has become synonymous with destruction and fear.  Thus when the weather forecasters early Tuesday morning began comparing that evening’s weather conditions on par with / more explosive than May 3rd of ’99, we were more than a little concerned.  By 3pm the storms had begun to build in the western part of the state and the sky in Moore/Norman had turned a sickly shade of green.  By 5pm massive cells of powerful storms were racing toward the OKC metro area, leaving a trail of destruction and tornadoes in its path. 

My office shut down early to give everyone a chance to get home and hunker down before the storms arrived.  I was a mess on the inside.  I had to keep a straight face for the sake of my children, but deep down inside the swirling sky and blaring sirens were chipping away at my composure. 

As soon as Jordan got home around 5:30PM the weather had kicked up into full gear and we were on alert.  The sirens all over town were constantly calling out their shrill warning of impending danger.  Jordan and I debated on leaving town but by the town we had decided to go it was too late.  Storms had developed all around us and there was nowhere to go.  We would have to stay and ride it out.

The kids were worried over the sight of Jordan and I carrying down pillows, blankets and mattresses from upstairs.  The dogs were rounded up downstairs and their crates brought in from the garage if things got worse.  Jordan stayed upstairs watching the weather report on the TV since it was the only place in the house where we got local channels.  I was stationed downstairs with the children and dogs, hovering over the weather radio listening to the same broadcast that Jordan was watching upstairs.  It was grim. 

Tornadoes were touching down and ripping through the countryside  just to the west of us.  Chickasha, not too far west of us was hit.  Then Newcastle, which was even closer.  Peidmont to the north-west of us was almost leveled by a massive wedge tornado.  People were injured and some even died. 

As this was coming across the airwaves, Gary England was tracking multiple tornadoes that were on projected to hit Norman.  They were unsure about were they would go, but we were definitely on the block for potential damage.  I called family back home in Georgia to alert them of the situation.  I hated to be the newbie, overreacting to the situation, however Joplin was still fresh in my mind.  Just two days before 120+ people had been killed by a tornado.  I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to tell them I loved them if the cool-headedness around me was misplaced. 

Of course my family thought that I was about to die and I was feigning calmness for their sake.  “So…we’re under two tornado warnings and are about to take shelter downstairs…we’ll be perfectly fine.”  They didn’t believe a word I said.  And personally I couldn’t blame them, because I was all kinds of terrified on the inside. 

The next hour was spent poised on the balls of our feet, ready to dash into hiding at a moments notice.  We watched/listened to tornadoes touch down and lift back up all around us.  We held out breath as some would be poised to strike and then would curve in a different direction at the last-minute.  It was exhausting.  I only glanced out the window once and found it hard to see past a few feet.  It was monstrous outside.  By 9pm it seemed as though the worst of the storms were to the east of us and we could finally exhale. 

I called my family back home once more to let them know that we were out of the woods as Jordan lugged the mattresses and blankets back upstairs.  The kids had contented themselves with sandwiches and cartoons during the worst of it and seemed unaware of how dire the night’s events had been.  Besides a few tearful moments at the peak of the storm, they had passed through it unphased.  Thank goodness.

After we tucked the kids in bed and made sure that no new storms had developed in the west, Jordan and I settled into bed to watch the coverage of the damage.  It was amazing in a terrible way.  So many people had lost everything.  They had nothing left be slabs where their homes had once been.  Some people were missing, others had been killed.  The damage path of the tornado that had hit Peidmont was had to process.  It was incredibly wide and long.  I had never imagined a tornado would stay on the ground that long.  It’s path across the countryside was nothing but dirt and leveled homes.  No trees remained, not even grass. 

Work yesterday was draining.  Catastrophes such as these make working in insurance challenging.  I talked to so many on the phone yesterday who were shaken and homeless. One woman had barely survived the storm in her mobile home as it was tossed about.  Her mother was still in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained during the storm.  It was heartbreaking.  What do you say to people in these situations?  How do you ease their suffering?  I truly do not know. 

Now, two days later, people are digging through the rubble and trying to move on.  Some are still missing and some are burying their loved ones.  Tuesday’s storms have given me a more healthy respect/fear of the weather.  I hope that this will be the only storm of the season and that by next spring I’ll be better prepared.

…oh, it will come around

24 May

Well, you’ll be relieved to know that I finally got my landlord to answer his phone last night.  However, I would not suggest what lengths I had to go to for him to answer his phone.  But, if you’re feeling “froggy” and have a “what the hell” attitude, then by all means…follow these simple steps:

  1. As already stated, you need to have been without air conditioning for at least 48 hours.  This is key.  There is no better catalyst in existence that can really get your blood pumping than lying in a pool of your own sweat for two days.
  2. This step is optional, but it seems to have worked for me: You may want to consider having trouble with your breaker box.  I, for instance, lost power to the second story of my house for a full 24 hours.  This along side a broken A/C unit really “frosted my lily.”
  3. …this is THE most important step:  Have your upstairs shower leak through the floor and flood through to your downstairs ceiling/bookcase.  It’s best if your extensive DVD/Blu Ray collection is in harms way.  Like mine.  I spent an hour on the floor with my husband last night hand-drying all of our movies.  It was awesome. 
  4. Finish things off with a crack in your ceiling measuring anywhere from one foot to two yards long.  This way all the water that has culminated between floors has somewhere to go.  Like onto your coffee table.    
  5. Finally, call your landlord every five minutes until he is filled with so much guilt that he has to answer.  Once you get him on the phone, don’t forget to mention the large sum you paid out of pocket to have his air conditioning unit repaired.  It’s a nice touch.

 

* See your landlord for details.  Results may vary.

What Comes Around

23 May

After working in property management for five years, I had developed a healthy loathing for most tenant complaints. I say healthy because it had not yet reached the point where I was shopping for “the perfect envelope” to mail flour in for my downward spiral into being a psychopath.

That trip to Crazytown aside, this weekend that proverbial shoe was firmly secured on the other foot. First the circuit breaker that controlled power to our entire second floor bit the dust. It penned a long, well thought out letter letting us know that we would soon be entering the second circle of hell and for us to remember to pack a snack. Thanks. Then the A/C died. Oh, hell. You’re so hot and humid…and hot. What’s up with that?

I knew better than to think that this was a precursor to this past weekends supposed apocalypse. I kindly turned down an offer from a homeless gentleman to wear a sandwich board claiming “the end was nye.” No, all those years of complaining about whining tenants had finally come back to bite me. In the rear. With teeth.

My first floor which usually doubles as a meat locker, heated up to 80 degrees. My second floor, which normally struggles to stay cool on a good day, got up into the mid-80’s. Oh, it all kinds of terrible. We all lazed about the downstairs trying to move as little as possible lest we create any unnecessary body heat. I would have laid down belly-first on the kitchen floor, but the dogs had beaten me to it. At least once an hour I attempted a call to my landlord who never answers the phone and most certainly never listens to a voice mail. He likes to let them build up until his voice mail box is bursting at the seams with pleas from his hapless tenants. Then, after they’ve marinated for a few days, he erases all the messages without listening to them to let the game begin anew. What can I say; I’ve got some resentment issues.

After 48 hours of sweating, and with no oldies to sweat to, we broke down and called our own technician to come out and fix the A/C. It was almost 9:00 at night on a Saturday. Oh yeah. We paid time and a half and had the air working again by 10. It was the best money Jordan and I have spent to date. Of course by then it was still in the 80’s and the kids were still awake. Thus they camped out downstairs and Jordan and I lay prone without moving all night upstairs. Thankfully it was back in the 70’s by morning.

Sunday was spent frolicking about the house, soaking in the cool air and generally cursing the name of our landlord. It was a great day.

The skirt who betrayed me

19 May

Since starting a new job a few weeks ago, I’ve had to change my dressing habits.  At first I was incredibly sad.  For the last six years I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever my heart desired.  (Within reason.  Damn bikini.  It had ruffles.  Surely that’s “business casual.”)   And for the last year I’ve practically lived in gym clothes.  Spandex and Lycra have become my dearest companions.  I haven’t painted my toes in almost ten months since they are constantly obscured from view inside a pair of sneakers.  Oh to dress in baggy T-shirts and too short shorts.  It’s the American dream.

Now that I’m working in Insurance, I’ve had to “spruce” things up a bit.  Paint my toes, shave my legs above my knees, spend 8+ hours in heels: It’s all good.  I must admit at first I was not loving the change, but now I’ve come to embrace it.  There’s nothing that makes you feel more feminine than slipping into a skirt and some heels and strutting it into work.  Yes, I’ve gotten to where I’m in love with business dress and it loves me.  Unless, I thought it did.

Yesterday I was killing some time during my lunch hour by stopping by Kohl’s to peruse their kitchen gadgets.  As I crossed the windy parking lot I suddenly could not feel my skirt around my legs anymore.  And then I realized it was because it was floating about somewhere in the area of my navel.  Yes, I’d just flashed my delicates at an elderly Korean woman who was making her way to the door alongside me.  And the worst part was that I was wearing plaid, green and red unmentionables.  In May.  I’m sure that the woman was silently judging me for celebrating Christmas in May.  It’s practically a Greek tragedy.

So today, I’m donning some dress slacks.  With a belt.  And weights attached to the cuffs.  Surely these will treat me well.  ;]

It was a large, friendly beast

18 May

Every morning after I drop off the kids at school I come back home and walk the dogs around our neighborhood.  It’s good exercise for all three of us, plus it gives the dogs a chance to do their business in the yard up the road instead of in my living room.  It’s a win-win.  This morning we’d struck out early in hopes to catch as many cats as we could at the cat house.  There is a house about a block away that we pass by every day.  And every day,  on average there are at least three cats scattered about the yard in what I am sure is a plot to drive my dogs insane.  I’ve counted as many as six different cats there before.  What you might call crazy makes me feel nostalgic.  My mom has a ridiculous number of cats herself and I can’t see that much fur on a lawn without thinking of her.  

Now back to the walk…

We’d barely made it to the corner of our street before we met up with some excitement.  The house near the corner is home to a Shiba Inu who thinks it’s poop doesn’t stink (pst, it does) and quite possibly the largest Mastiff I have ever laid eyes upon.  This dog is e-freakin-normous.  I’ve only ever seen it’s head poking out from under its garage door and the tip of its tail as it whizzed past the top of a 6 foot fence.  It’s like the dog from The Sandlot.  This morning, however, it escaped from its yard and ran at full speed for me and the dogs.  Lemon, who is a dainty southern bell, yelped loudly and then proceeded to dissolve into a puddle of Dachshund pudding.  Denny, who is completely tailless and whose legs are barely long enough to be called legs, tried to eat the Mastiff.  And what about me?  I squeezed my eyes shut, held my breath and waited for the dog to eat me alive.  Maybe it would be kind and go for a vital organ first.  However it turned out that the horse-dog was extremely friendly and is named Bailey instead of Butch the Destroyer like I had imagined.  

Bailey didn’t linger long as his master, a small woman who could have happily ridden the dog to work, ran into the yard to gather him up.  She apologize and I finally found enough nerve to open my eyes and give her one of those “…ah, no big deal.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve wet myself” kind of smiles.  I managed to get Lemon going again, who I am sure would have laid there and played dead for a solid week if that’s what it would have taken for her to regain her composure.  She’s so delicate.  [wink]

The rest of the walk passed by like normal.  Although there was only one cat to be seen at the cat house.  It was a large and fluffy cat who had enough fur to make at least two more.  So I wasn’t disappointed.  It was a grand enough cat to make up for the lack of the rest of the hoard.  Though not nearly as big as Bailey.

Wiper Blades, Use #2

17 May

Ohmygoodness.  I’m back.  After an extended leave. Very extended.

I apologize for being away for so long, but life has done what life is best at:  It changes, usually without your consent.  So I’ve taken a few weeks off to adjust.  I’ve started a new job, moved into a new house.  All of which is stressful and exciting and stressful.  Yes, stressful was listed twice.  You know, for emphasis. [wink]

On the up side, there have been a few things to brag about.  All of which I’ll share with you in detail later. As a quick example: Fisher kicked his first goal during his last game of soccer last week.  Needless to say I was proud to the point of bursting.  But the mom holding the baby standing next to me wouldn’t have appreciated that, so I kept it together.  You’re welcome. 

In other news, I witness the most gloriously hilarious and nonsensical sight today while on the way back to the office from lunch:

While sitting at a red light I glanced behind me to see a mini van waiting behind me.  The gloriously hilarious part came from the van’s wiper blades.  They were both propped up to the point of obscuring the driver’s view.  What, pray tell, where they propped up on?  Half gallon cartons of strawberry ice cream.  Duh. 

Now I’m not sure why they were their, but I like to think that the driver’s microwave had died in the night and this was the next best way to thaw out frozen ice cream.  I’m sure that’s listed in a survival guide somewhere.  “Water, handy for hydration.  Mini van wiper blades?  Amazing at thawing ice cream while keep the carton affixed to the vehicle.”  It makes so much sense I can’t believe that I haven’t thought of it before. 

So, there you go.  My gift to you after a few weeks away.  If you’re ever in a pinch and need to thaw some ice cream fast while simultaneously bragging to your neighbors about the brand of ice cream you keep on hand, strap those puppies down under your wiper blades and go for a drive.  A few blocks should do it.